Hi, it’s me again! Ricotta’s biggest fangirl!
But seriously, I just made the best batch of ice cream I have ever created, and it is thanks in no small part to the greatness of ricotta.
I got the idea from a customer, actually. This badass cook shops in my store. (I don’t know if that’s her real profession, but man does she prepare some feasts.) She’s got to be in her late 20s, and she has this super laid-back way of talking about the feasts she prepares for her urban tribe.
The first time I counseled her on her pre-party shopping, she mentioned wanting to do something with the heavenly heirloom tomatoes from our produce department. And by something, she already knew she wanted to make a tomato and ricotta ice cream.
Ricotta ice cream? Mind blown.
Around this same time, local cherries were also coming into season at full blast. Somehow, it became a no-brainer for me. Cherries + ricotta = good idea for ice cream.
I had no idea how good it would actually be. GREAT idea doesn’t even sum it up properly.
After scouring the internets for recipes, I decided to come up with my own concoction based on how little effort I wanted to put in and how many eggs I wanted to sacrifice for their yolks (zero).
The batter tasted pretty darn good. And after I churned it, the finished product was so damn good I could barely bring myself to package it into my used Talenti pints and allow it to sit in the freezer.
Since I am all about sharing a good thing, I want you to be able to experience the greatness on your own. (And no, I’m not sharing mine.)
Cherry Ricotta Ice Cream
- 12 oz ricotta (I used Bellwether Farms’ heavenly whole-milk basket ricotta)
- 1 cup of cherries, any variety, pitted and halved (I used plain old red cherries)
- 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract (the good stuff without sugar and crap added to it, if you can find it and/or afford it once you find it)
- 1/3 cup of finely ground cane sugar (aka ultrafine or caster sugar; see note at bottom for details)
- 1 cup Half & Half
I first set about washing my cherries, removing the stems, and then pitting them. Since I don’t have a fancy-dancy cherry pitter at home (which, I also learned the hard way back when I was a produce clerk, doesn’t always remove the pits anyway), I slice the cherries in half, peel the halves apart, and then slice the pit out of the half in which it remains.
(If I’m prepping the cherries only for myself and I’m feeling extra lazy, I’ll just bite the pits out. But you probably don’t want to do that if there’s a chance someone else is going to be consuming the cherries.)
I then plopped the cherries into the bottom of a medium-large Tupperware bowl, and then plopped the beautiful ricotta right on top of the cherry halves, using a spatula to ensure I got all of the ricotta out of the basket to the best of my abilities.
I then measured a tablespoon of vanilla extract over the top of the ricotta, dumped my ground-up sugar* over the top of everything, and then poured in one cup of Half & Half.
Using a big spoon, I mixed it all together until the ricotta appeared to be pretty well incorporated with the other liquids and the sugar had fully dissolved.
I then put a lid on the bowl and popped it into the freezer for a little over an hour, until the batter had begun to freeze to the sides of the bowl.
Since I have a KitchenAid stand mixer with the ice cream attachment, I had already placed the ice cream attachment bowl into the freezer for more than 24 hours. This is super important, as is pre-freezing the ice cream batter before mixing it. If the batter is too warm, or if the mixer bowl isn’t frozen enough, the ice cream just won’t set.
If you have a different kind of ice cream maker, you can proceed at this point per your own maker’s instructions.
For the KitchenAid, I poured the batter into the mixer bowl, put on the mixing attachments, and set the motor to low speed. I also set a timer for 15 minutes and walked away from it (sort of).
I came back every few minutes or so to turn off the mixer and use a spatula to push the batter down into the bowl. After all, you want it to keep churning, and not just hang out wherever it ends up sticking.
After 15 minutes, I used a spatula and a rubberized spoon (after realizing the spatula wasn’t sturdy enough to gather the full weight of the frozen ice cream out of the mixer) to get the ricotta ice cream into some ice cream pints; I really love reusing the clear, plastic Talenti gelato containers, because they are perfectly hand-washable, see-through, and sturdy.
Definitely leave some room–say, an inch–at the top of the pint before putting the lid on; the ice cream will expand as it freezes, and you don’t want it spooging out the sides of the container and getting wasted on the inside of your freezer.
A lot of the ice cream I made didn’t make it into the freezer, but some of it did. My boyfriend, who is always the skeptic when it comes to trying new things, had to admit that this was really, really good ice cream.
In fact, as he finally said, “that’s actually really good!”
* Before the day of the big ice-cream making, I had already ground myself some sugar. A few recipes called for ultrafine sugar, and the rationale seemed to be in favor of a certain textural/chemical reaction. Since I don’t have the patience to go to the store in search of such things–and they are probably super expensive anyway–I had learned a while back (while making my German-style cheesecake) that ultrafine, or caster sugar, can easily be made at home by grinding it up to a near-powder in the coffee grinder.
I just measured one-third of a cup of my normal organic, cane sugar into the coffee grinder, set it to 4 cups and fine on the settings, and then let the grinder do the work. Obviously, I had cleaned the grinder very well before grinding the sugar, to get all of the coffee oils out of it. And then I cleaned it again really well after grinding the sugar, so my coffee wouldn’t be all gross and sweet the next day.